Good morning, shambling hordes! (Or maybe that's just how we are at my house when we get woken up before we want to be.) My mini vacay was so nice. We went to visit my husband's family farm and got to ride on this crazy off-road thing that goes over huge piles of rocks, downed trees, and swamps. My son played lots of soccer, although I missed a couple of games because I was talking at the library.
And holy crapsticks--that was seriously fun. It was the first over 80s day we've had, and I seriously worried that no one would show up. (Mental note--must invent weather controlling machine for events.) But a small group of die-hards came, and the library set out displays of dead flowers, since I was talking about the UNdead, and they made cake pops with monster faces on them. I wanted to move in and never leave.
So we sat there for about an hour, and I talked about writing, and I found myself telling this anecdote and realizing about halfway through that it really is PG-13 and maybe I shouldn't have told it, but it was too late by then. But I think it really says something important.
See, I'm not so keen on books where they describe a character down to their eyelashes. When I meet someone, I don't think to myself, "She has shoulder length brown hair in need of a cut, deep blue eyes with a deeper ring around them, average height, with a little chip in her front tooth..." and so on. I usually remember one or two things that stand out to me, and the rest of the details fall into the background. Am I the only person who does this? Because that's how I tend to describe my characters--I pick a few details that make them stand out and let people fill in the rest.
Unfortunately, this approach can sometimes backfire, in real life anyway. For example, I went to this party a while back. Now, this was a theater party, and that meant there were theater people there. (Astounding logic, eh?) And I hadn't met most of them before. But my best friend Monster wanted to go, so we did. And we're standing outside by the bonfire, chatting, when the door opened and all the partygoers came outside.
I didn't know where to look. (Although I definitely knew where I DIDN'T want to look.) They swarmed all over the backyard, climbing trees and fences and doing little dances on the grass. After about 10 minutes, they got cold and splintered and went back inside.
We left the party shortly thereafter because we couldn't stop giggling every time we looked at the trees. And later, I'd meet some of those people, and I'd introduce myself, and they'd look at me funny. "We've already met," they'd say. "At the party."
This is where my approach backfired. Because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't avoid noticing the naked bits. It's hard to do when people are climbing trees and dancing around and being generally crazy. And you remember what I said about remembering one or two defining physical characteristics about a person, right? Well, once those physical characteristics are covered up by clothes, it becomes really hard to remember people. And I've learned that it's not a good idea to say, "Hey, could you drop your pants?" And then, "Oh! I remember you!" And then giggling.